Saturday, June 30, 2007
First I dumped a medium-sized garbage bag of sawdust in the bottom of the barrel and placed my pots on top of that. The sawdust I got for free from a local lumberyard.
Next we sprinkled plant fertilizer around the pots. From what I've heard and read about, the plant fertilizer helps promote different flashes of color on the pots. Ok. I'll try it--$4.00 for a box of generic stuff at WalMart.
The next sprinkling was copper carbonate, purchased from a ceramics supply distributor. Thats about $7.00 bucks a pound and it is the greenish powder that is sprinkled next to and on top of the pottery. I was going to add some chicken bones and bannana peels, as one internet site suggested, but I was out of chicken bones and the peels were forgotten in the freezer at home. Oh well.
And finally, at the three o'clock position--a piece of copper pipe. This was Johns addition. I'm not sure what he thought it would or might do. In the end the pipe appeared to do nothing, as it was fully intact after the ashes were cleared.
Now on to the next step.
old dead grape vines. These were handy at the
burn pile and seemed to make a nice start.
After the really light stuff we went a bit heavier
with broken up pieces of slats and then pieces of
shipping pallets. In between we also sprinkled
some more fertilizer and copper carbonate.
Once the barrel was about half full I dumped a box of wood pieces from my friend Dave's garage. It was anything from plywood to other wood that he had built cabinets out of. And finally on top of that we addied the bigger hard wood, split hickory that John's brother Joe gave us.
Now that the barrel was fully loaded we were ready to light it up.
using the torch from my raku kiln.
We figured the barrel would probably burn for about six hours and then take the rest of the night and early morning to cool down.
We had the burn rate about right. About 11pm the fire was going out. But, the pots were still hot the next morning when John pulled them from the ashes. In fact, he said he burned the middle finger out of one glove while removing the pots early Saturday morning.
And from the ashes came my first successful barrel firing.
Strange to say, but I haven't actually seen these pots yet. My guess is that my friend John was so excited to see the results that he couldn't sleep and he went out early this morning to check out the barrel. After which, this photo was emailed to me.
I don't know what John thinks, but I'm really happy with what I see. First of all I had never tried this type of firing before and I heard that breakage rates are high. I also didn't know what to expect--would 50% of my pots be broken? Would I get any colors at all on my pots, or would the surviving pots be an ugly black? I had no guidence on this other than a few posts I had read on the internet, and they talked about burning bannana peels and chicken bones. I mixed in some plant fertilizer and some copper carbonate. The colors look good to me. Maybe next time I'll try the peels and bones. Right now I've got to check out my new pots. Cheers!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
I'll get into the details of Barrel firing in another post. Here I'll just talk about how I burnished this pot.
I threw this form on the wheel and smoothed the wet clay as smooth as possible with a metal rib. When the pot was almost bone dry ("leather hard" in potters terms) I used a metal spoon to burnish the pot. It took about an hour, gently rubbing the spoon in circular motions. At this point the pot took on a nice glossy sheen. It was probably ready to fire at this time but I decided to try burnishing it again with a little bit of Crisco oil. I had read about this method on the internet.
I applied a light coat of oil with my finger, about two-inches square at a time, and then polished the area in circular motions with the bottom side of the spoon. This was repeated until the whole pot took on a high gloss finish. Holding it in your hands, it looks and feels like a finely polished granite or marble stone.